Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Writing lessons learned from BRUISED


BREAKING NEWS!! Lisa Gail Green's debut novel, The Binding Stone, released yesterday! She's my writing buddy, and I'm super excited for her. Click here to grab your own copy of this awesome YA book.

And now on to my regular post...

I recently finished reading BRUISED, by Sarah Skilton. Bruised was a great book with an amazing voice and many powerful moments. Sarah is a friend of mine, but this isn't friendship talking--this is a reader praising a worthy book.

From Goodreads:

When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else--more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout. With action, romance, and a complex heroine, Bruised introduces a vibrant new voice to the young adult world--full of dark humor and hard truths.

Here are some of the writing lessons I learned from this powerful book:

  • Open with a snapshot of the major incident--When the book begins, the shootout had already happened. It didn't give a blow by blow of the shootout, only glimpses from Imogen's broken memory. Details of the shootout are dispersed throughout the book. Then Imogen describes the hard work that went into earning a black belt, ending the chapter with this powerful line: "My black belt represents everything I could've done and everything I didn't do, the only time it really mattered."
  • Connect love interest through tragedy--We meet Ricky, the love interest, right away. Like Imogen, he hid under a table while the shootout happened. He understands her fears and her struggle to merge back into real life. Ricky wants to learn how to fight, and Imogen teaches him. This connects them beyond school and family.
  • Use humor to lighten a dark subject--The author does a great job of injecting humor in unlikely places. It's not just humor for shock value, it's embedded in the character. There's a line in there about a weed whacker that still cracks me up. This wasn't a funny book, but the character's way of looking at life made me smile.
  • Sprinkle in unanswered questions--Some questions are answered right away, but there are questions about the shootout that linger on until later chapters. I'd forget about these missing details until the author strategically reminded me. It kept me wondering what I didn't know yet.
  • Forgotten past--When characters suffer a traumatic experience, authors can use this to create more mystery. Imogen thinks she cowered under a table during the entire robbery, but then she wonders, why was there blood all over my clothes? It's a mystery, and the author allows the reader and Imogen to discover the truth together. 
Miranda Kenneally, author of Catching Jordan, said this about Bruised: "Raw and real, Bruised is an important read for all teens, especially those who feel they've lost their way. This beautiful book shows the true power of sports."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Have you read Bruised? What's your opinion of these writing lessons? Have you used them in your own work?

27 comments:

  1. WOOT! for Lisa! :D

    The Bruised cover is amazing, and it sounds like just as good of a read. :)

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    1. EJ, I agree about Lisa AND the cover of Bruised. Amazing stuff going on!

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  2. Bruised looks wonderful, Julie! And I love the thoughts you shared with it. All spot on. You always have insightful/awesome posts! :D

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    1. Thanks so much, Morgan! Hey, I'll learn what I can where I can :)

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  3. Every little helps, always learning something new.

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    1. Carole, ain't that the truth! I'm thankful for every lesson.

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  4. Keeping things a mystery from both character and reader takes talent!

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    1. Alex, I know, right? I'd love to master that!

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  5. I've seen this around. It sounds fantastic. Loved what you shared about it. It made it sound even better than the description.

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    1. Natalie, it had many subtle layers, which I love. If you read it, I hope you love it too!

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  6. That's another great reason for writers to read widely.

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    1. Sheena-kay, so true. I learn stuff from every book, no matter the genre!

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  7. I always love when you analyze published books like this. This one sounds great!

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    1. Amy! Nice to hear from you. I learn so much from each book, and I'm happy to share along the way :)

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  8. Julie, it sounds like Sarah has it figured out! I like the snippet of the major incident in the beginning. And then bringing up points through out... that made you think. I'm going to love reading this book! Thank you!!

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    1. Karlene, it was really cool. She spread out the major incident, which sort of ingrained it in my brain one piece at a time.

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  9. Sounds like a fabulous read - thanks for the review & breakdown of lessons learned. :) Adding to my TBR.

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    1. Thanks, Trisha. I hope you enjoy it!

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  10. These are all great lessons, and the book sounds interesting too, especially the part about how the MC and her love interest meet. I especially agree with the part about sprinkling in unanswered questions rather than try to address them all at once; I've read other books where there was too much explaining at the beginning, and it made me lose interest.

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    1. Unanswered questions...that's a skill I'm practicing. You're right, too much info right away makes us lose interest. We don't want that!

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  11. Unanswered questions are a must!!!

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  12. Haven't read that one but I love the things you've learned. Sprinkling in questions and answers throughout is tough - and smart!

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  13. Sounds like it has a lot of heart.

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  14. I ADORED Bruised. The way Sarah peppered in info-bits about the "big" incident was brilliant. The relationship between Imogen and her brother was also heart grabbing.

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  15. Sounds like a great read, Julie!! Will pick it up!!

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  16. What a wonderful review. I like the way you broke it down to writing advice, reading like a writer. It sounds like a wonderful book and a refreshing change from vampires and such for YAs. Congratulations to your writing friend for her debut novel.

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  17. I couldn't agree more! Bruised was awesome!

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